Last Tuesday night Padres Public converged on Eastlake, Ohio for a Midwest League game between the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lake County Captains. Nathan traveled from about a half hour away in Cleveland, and myself from somewhere in the middle of New York, a cool six-hour trip. Nathan made an additional appearance on Thursday night.
This is what we saw.
Ronald Bolanos, RHP
Bolanos, a 19 year old Cuban who signed last August for $2.25 million during A.J. Preller’s summer abroad, started his minor league career in extended spring training, but he was sent out to Fort Wayne in mid-May, and he’s now made 5 starts for the team. Thursday night was the fifth, and it was his longest start of the year, at 6 2/3 innings pitched. In his previous start, he went 5 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 9 batters against a very good Lansing team, his best start of the year. Thursday’s was on course to be better, but it had to settle for also quite good.
A look at a Padres prospect or two from each level of the system that had a noteworthy week. The Fort Wayne TinCaps were the only affiliate that posted a winning week (4-3), while the rest combined for a 8-13 record. Yikes. That’s not quite as bad as the Padres current winning percentage, but it’s close. Despite the losing, there were plenty of bright spots and examples of player progression, which is what Padres fans should really be looking for anyways.
Walker Lockett – SP, El Paso Chihuahuas
2 starts, 12 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Yes, Dinelson Lamet continues to miss more bats for the Chihuahuas (including 9 K’s in his last six inning start), but Lockett has been equally effective and even more efficient, throwing fewer pitches (90 in a 7 inning start, and then 75 in a 5 inning start) and going deeper in his appearances. It’d be surprising to see either Lamet or Lockett in San Diego before the All-Star break, and while Lamet probably has the inside track, more weeks like this from Lockett will make that a tougher decision.
Yuniet Flores, OF, High-A Lake Elsinore
Are you on board with A.J. Preller loading up on young international talent, but not quite patient enough to see if any of these teenagers actually pans out? If so, you’re in luck, because there’s one Cuban that the Padres inked to a deal last August that’s already playing at High-A Lake Elsinore: Yuniet Flores.
Of course, there’s a catch—Flores isn’t a teenage phenom, he’s 31 years old. He debuted with the Storm on Sunday and promptly went 4-for-6, including a walkoff single. After playing in a few more High-A games, he is off to a .462/.563/.538 start in 16 plate appearances.
Is that enough to get excited about? I’m not sure. I’m a long drive away from Lake Elsinore (hello from Texas), so I haven’t had eyes on him yet. His stats from the Cuban National League are good but not great (.298/.371/.409 over an eight-year period). In terms of what he brings to the table, well… I honestly can’t even find even a shred of a scouting report on Flores.
Andrew Cashner. Gone. Matt Kemp. Gone. Melvin Upton Jr. Gone. Fernando Rodney. Gone. James Shields. Gone. Twelve out of thirteen draft picks from the first ten rounds of the 2016 Amateur Draft signed. Over $60 million in international signings so far, and that’s just since July 2nd.
One thing that all of these trades, draft picks, and international signings say to me is that Lake Elsinore is going to be the perfect place for Padres fans to watch baseball on a regular basis. And, it’s looking like it’s going to be that way for a couple of years, at least.
I’ll be honest, I should have written at least part of this earlier in the season. But the influx of talent to the lower levels of the minor leagues made it relevant again.